4/14/2009

The Teabagging of America

There are times when the loony wingnuts do something that just boggles the mind. Now that taxes have been dropped on most Americans and the majority of Americans feel that the tax rate is just right (an amazing change), the folks at Fox and major corporations have decided to manipulate the loons that make up the Libertarian front and their extreme right wingnuts from the GOP into holding "Teabag Parties." Described as a "grassroots" protest, it is in fact an astroturfed protest.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way. According to the Urban Dictionary, "teabaggin'" is "
when a man repeatidly (sic) submerges his testicles into the mouth of a man/woman."

OK, that's why we're all laughing and that's how out of touch with American culture that the folks organizing this pseudo-protest are.

But what about the whole tea party thing? Is it really a legitimate historical reference and extension of an historic event into modern times? Let's consider that.

What was the Boston Tea Party? It was an organized bit of property destruction to protest a direct tax on an essential product. Now, this same tax that they protested so vehemently we pay every day on almost every product we purchase in the form of a sales tax. We pay direct taxes twice on some essentials like gas and heating oil as both state and federal taxes are assessed. We even vote overwhelmingly to raise double direct taxes on some products like cigarettes, cigars, and other smoking products.

With that in mind, let's go back to 1773 and the "Tea Party." In order to recoup the costs of fighting a war in Europe and the New World (The Seven Years War/French and Indian War) Parliament (not the King) imposed various taxes on the colonies to pay for their defense. Since income taxes were not used at that time, the logical tax was on products imported and exported from the colonies. After an initial row over taxes Parliament rescinded all but the tax on tea.

The Bostonians Paying the Excise ManImage via Wikipedia

So, the colonists organized boycotts of tea. They pulled down the homes of tax collectors and port authorities. They tortured and even killed some tax collectors. This was not a shining moment of liberty as many think. It was a brutal and vicious time when to disagree with the mob was to put life and property in jeopardy.

Finally, a group boarded three ships in Boston Harbor where tea was being held because Governor Hutchinson refused to allow the ship to offload the tea nor return to England without paying the tax. The group seized the bales of tea, cracked them open with axes and poured the contents into the harbor making it impossible for the government to collect the taxes on the product.

So, that is the significance of the "Tea Party" it was not only a protest but a practical way to keep the government from collecting a tax on a product. The tea was no "symbolic" it was the actual focus of the protest.

Tomorrow, wingnuts will be having their "tea parties" all over the country decrying income taxes and whatever else they can dream up. For weeks they have been mailing teabags to Congress and the White House saying they are "teabagging" Washington.

Now, destroying teabags that you buy yourself and pay a sales tax on hardly qualifies as a protest. In fact, by virtue of the protest itself they are generating tax revenue for the state through the sales tax on the product bought to be destroyed as well as the fact that they are holding many of these "protests" in bars where they will also be paying federal and state taxes on liquor and alcohol consumed. In fact this "tax protest" will actually generate a nice bit of change for the state and federal government.

Does anyone see how this is very different from the real Tea Party? In fact, does anyone notice this is almost the opposite of the real Tea Party? If they wanted to protest income taxes and be as ballsy about it as our forefathers, the thing to do is go into libraries, post offices, and other public places and gather all the tax forms and burn them in the streets. Then refuse to file their taxes or collect income taxes from their employees. Those would be direct actions and civil disobedience that would have both a symbolic and practical effect.

Instead, they will all dutifully pay their taxes then run off to the Safeway to buy their teabags and dutifully pay the sales tax on them, gas up their car and dutifully pay the tax on that gas, and then meet their fellow wingnuts and destroy the teabags while swilling their drinks on which they have also paid the taxes like good citizens.

Protest? Not hardly. As Shakespear said: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


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